Effects of Treatments

Cancer treatment is geared toward positive outcomes, such as removing the cancer, replacing abnormal blood-producing cells in bone marrow with healthy ones and preventing recurrence. However, many of the treatments used to accomplish that have their own challenges for our bodies. Prior knowledge of what to expect helps in treatment decision making and getting the support you need to deal with these effects.

Fatigue: The most common effect of cancer treatment, this fatigue is different than the kind healthy people experience. It can result from any type of cancer treatment.

Gastrointestinal complications: Nausea, vomiting, constipation, and diarrhea are all possibilities with cancer and its treatment. New anti-nausea drugs are very effective at managing those symptoms.

Hypercalcemia: Calcium is an important mineral for our bodies, but too much in our blood (hypercalcemia) can be life threatening. It is most common in lung, breast, multiple myeloma and lymphoma cancers.

Rashes: Chemotherapy kills cancer cells, but it may damage normal cells also. The lining of the mouth, throat, stomach and intestines are particularly vulnerable to damage.

Nutrition: Healthy diets and good nutrition are especially important for cancer patients, but the treatment may impact your ability to get adequate nutrition without the help of professionals.

Pain: Tumors, surgery, radiation and chemotherapy can all cause pain with cancer.

Peripheral neuropathy: Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) is a set of symptoms caused by damage to the nerves that control the movement of our arms and legs and may cause numbness, tingling and pain in hands and feet.

Sleep disorders: More common in people with cancer, sleep may be disturbed by cancer, pain or certain drugs or treatments.

Temporary loss of hair: That includes eyelashes and eyebrows. Hair usually grows back in after treatment.


Cardio-oncology is a new medical discipline focused on optimally treating any associated heart conditions in patients who have been treated for cancer, or are currently being treated for cancer. Specialized cardiologists can assess patients for the potential risk of developing certain heart conditions, especially if they are receiving particular types of cancer drugs, or following radiation treatment to the chest.